Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

Category: Trips (page 1 of 11)

Anything related to travelling, or trips that I take for business or leisure.

Our Road Trip to the Outer Banks 2017 – Part 5

With Saturday and Sunday, our big summer vacation was coming to a close.

Saturday consisted of much lounging around for most people, with some time on the beach before it started to rain again..

Last dinner in OBX (or was it?)

Last dinner in OBX (or was it?)

I decided to squeeze one more bike ride in and make it over the 100-mile mark for the week. I went south one more time, and rode about 1:15 towards Roanoke Island. I was sorely tempted to ride all the way to Roanoke Island itself, but the bridge across the channel had no sidewalk or shoulder, and cars were zooming by at 60 MPH. I wouldn’t say I was sacred, but I had a bad feeling that this was “a bridge to far” (if I am allowed to reference that classic WWII film), and I was taking a large risk trying to make it across. So, I erred on the side of caution and turned around. I rode 20.08 miles that day in a little over an hour, and my total for the week was 110 miles. Pretty awesome.

While everyone else ordered out dinner, the Ipes decided to strike out on our own for a family dinner at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. After a week of being with everyone, it was nice to get a little change. After we came back, we finished washing the laundry, packed up our luggage, and loaded most of our stuff in the car.

I woke up early Sunday morning and went out to check out the sunrise and the beach. It was beautiful. Just beautiful. How come we had to wait a whole week for this? I mean, look at it!

OBX 2017 (131 of 141)

What to do? We were leaving in a few hours. We finished loading the car, made sure the house was clean, said our good byes, and then we were off. The plan was a quick breakfast and coffee nearby, visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, then get on the road. We unexpectedly met the Fernandez family briefly at the same coffee shop, then went to the the Wright Brothers National Memorial. First we listened to a park ranger give a rousing background on the Wright Brothers, then we took a walk to the actual memorial on the top of Kill Devil Hill (A ha! That’s the name of the town.) It was a beautiful day — all sun, warm breeze. Where was this weather all week? And we’re going home?

OBX 2017 (139 of 141)Well, on the way back down the hill, Namita pulls me aside and asks, “What if we stayed another day?” It wasn’t a crazy idea. A quick check found available rooms at the Holiday Inn in Nags Head right on the beach for a reasonable fee. So made a non-refundable reservation, refueled the car, hit the hotel, got a parking pass, changed in the hotel lobby restroom, got our stuff, and walked onto the beach. We spend an amazing day at the beach. We had lunch on the beach. The kids used their boogie boards. I joined the kids in the water for a long while.

Best $249 we’ve ever spent.

We checked in officially around 5 pm, and then freshened up for dinner. We had dinner at Tortuga’s Lie, then came back to watch a little TV, chill out, and sleep. In the morning, we grabbed a quick hot breakfast downstairs, then we got on the road for home. We did hit some traffic driving through Maryland and Delaware, but got home in the late afternoon to find two cats mildly happy to see us.

Our Road Trip to the Outer Banks 2017 – Part 4

We spent Thursday doing random stuff. During the morning and mid-day, the sun was out, so a bunch of us went out to the beach. The red flags were out, so everyone was limited to going ankles or knees deep. This was my first time on the beach, and it wasn’t bad. A bunch of kids got tired of the beach quickly, and went back to the pool. Namita took a long walk with a friend along the beach. I took some video while the kids were out.

20170831_114203 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

20170831_114506 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

20170831_114544 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

In the late afternoon, the kids and I went out for an 8 mile bike ride south along the main road. On the way back, we stopped at Surfin’ Spoon for a frozen yogurt treat. In the evening, we grilled up some dinner.

On Friday, most of us went to check out the Bodie Island Lighthouse (one family went go-karting), then lunch at Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant (it’s okay.)  After lunch, we checked out the proverbial waterfront, then went to the Jockey Ridge State Park. This is a national park featuring massive sand dunes. Reading some of the information at the Information Center, the sand dunes were created a long time ago by the wind. I thought we might only walk around briefly, but people were feeling adventurous, so we climbed a few sand dunes. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and I’ve never been on a sand dune before. It was pretty cool.

Our Road Trip to the Outer Banks 2017 – Part 3

Wednesday was probably one of the two nicest days we had the entire week, weather-wise. The four of us jumped into the car for a quick trip to Duck Donuts in nearby Kitty Hawke. The donuts are good, but wow, super rich. I may have picked at a couple of pieces, but way too much for me guilt-free.

OBX 2017 (58 of 141)While everyone was making minor plans to go out and/or hang out in the house, I was experiencing a little cabin fever. The day is nice, and it was probably going to rain again on Thursday so this was my one chance for an extended bike ride. I had gone riding on Monday, but only made it 20+ miles that day after getting caught in the rain. I suited up, and decided to ride north along the main road (Route 12), and kept on going and going. I didn’t really have a plan either. Somewhere along the way, I decided to make it to the Audubon Pine Island Sanctuary, but that was easier than I thought. I figured I’d keep going, and rode through Duck. At 20+ miles out, I saw signs for the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, and I thought to myself that it would be pretty cool to take a photo at the lighthouse. Personally, I find something like that is a big motivator when you’re struggling out on the open road. That’s good life advice too.

Once I arrived at the lighthouse, I walked around briefly, took some pictures, then made my way across the street to a pizzeria. I had a nice meatball parmigiana hero, fries, and a beer. While I was there, I found out the bartender (and two patrons present) were  all original NJ residents. What a strange coincidence. Anyway, I reloaded my water bottles, and got back on the road. With reaching the beach house as my only goal, I felt energized and kept an average speed of 16.7 MPH, and raced the 30.23 miles home in 1 hour and 49 minutes. If you see the screenshots below, it took me 2 hours and 12 minutes to ride north, but I shaved 24 minutes off on the way back. I was feelin’ it on the way back — getting home is also always a good motivator.

I came back to find everyone in the hot tub and pool, and that seemed like a cool idea. I quickly showered, then joined the hot tub crowd. In the evening, we all dressed up for dinner at Dirty Dick’s in Nag’s Head. It was such a nice night, we decided to walk over. Food was okay. I don’t eat seafood often, so I had a NY strip steak. Afterwards, we all took a quick Uber ride home, then chilled out.

Our Road Trip to the Outer Banks 2017 – Part 2

The next two days (Monday and Tuesday) were a little overcast, rainy at times, so we spent a good portion of our days inside, with the occasional running outside to soak up the good weather when the sun poked itself out from behind the clouds.

On Monday, after breakfast, it wasn’t raining yet, so I decided to get my first bike ride in, and a few others went for a walk outside. I went south along the main road, and wanted to ride at least 25 or 30 miles out. However, it started raining around mile 11, and I was worried about getting caught in the tropical storm expected to arrive in the late afternoon. I hightailed it back in the rain, and ended up riding a total (and wet) 21.43 miles that afternoon. It was probably the rainiest day of that entire week. We spent the rest of the day and night inside, played on the PS4 (yes, I brought my PlayStation), board games, and watched TV/movies.

Tuesday was a little better, so we got more time outside at the pool and hot tub.

Our Road Trip to the Outer Banks 2017 – Part 1

After a year of on and off planning for a year, our big trip to the Outer Banks was at hand. I am happy to say that it went mostly according to plan, though we wondered what sort of hiccups we would have to anticipate for. Four out of the six families were now leaving on Saturday afternoon, staying midway (overnight) in Virginia Beach. We and another family still planned to leave early Sunday morning. In the week before departure, we were ordering last-minute supplies, getting a cat sitter, and installing our new Saris bike rack

The big hiccups as the clock inexorably ticked down to Sunday morning:

  • The weather wasn’t looking so great for the week (rain on and off), but nothing we could do, and we’re still going on vacation, dammit!
  • One last-minute Amazon order was delayed in delivery, and ultimately lost in transit somehow. I was looking forward to new cycling socks and that Led Zeppelin t-shirt.

OBX 2017 (3 of 141)Since the Ipes usually stay up all night long with last-minute packing before a trip, and then spend an hour trying to load up the car, and trying to squeeze forgotten items, my wife forced us to do better. We finished all of our packing and loading the car late Saturday night around 11 pm, including the bicycles. This way, we could sleep, then get on the road by 5 am as planned. Good idea, because we left on time (believe it or not.) Namita ended up driving the entire way down, because she was “feelin’ it.” We made two pit stops somewhere in Virginia for gas and then snacks, and it was smooth sailing overall. We arrived in Kill Devil Hills early (before check-in time), so we hung out with everyone at Mama Kwan’s for a late snack/lunch/drinks.

Once we got the go-ahead to get into the house, we all drove over, started unloading the cars, and people were running around checking out the house, picking rooms, and whatever. To keep it simple, we ordered pizza and wings from the Pizza Hut around the corner, and let the kids run wild because, hey it’s day one of vacation.


I went to Kansas City Missouri for the first time and I thought it was a nice place

At the beginning of the month, I flew down to Kansas City Missouri and spent a week there for work. While it was my 2nd trip to Missouri (I think I want to St. Louis in 2003 or 2004), it was my first time to Kansas City. Due to crazy pricing, my best option was to fly out of Philadelphia. I had a gym class early Sunday morning, had to fill the gas tank, and that left me 60 mins to get showered, dressed, and packed up. In hindsight, I should have skipped the class. I ended up running out the door around 10:45 AM, drove rapidly to Philadelphia, grabbed the shuttle bus from economy parking, and got to the terminal in record time. The TSA Pre-check line was empty so I breezed through security. Awesome. I ate a mediocre cheesesteak from the airport Geno’s, and boarded my 2 hour flight to KC.

After arriving, I was dismayed to learn my luggage was unfortunately delayed but American promised to deliver it by 1 AM Sunday evening. I took a cab to the Residence Inn Downtown Marriott, and checked in. It’s a brand new hotel (10 months old), and very nice. I ended up taking a walk around town while the sun was still out. Sadly the city is dead and deserted on Sundays, with most stores and restaurants closed, and I encountered only a handful of people while walking. I was surprised. I ended up grabbing dinner with a colleague at Yard House. Excellent food BTW.

The rest of the week was sorta typical for an audit. I would say it was nice to be able to walk 10 minutes to and from the hotel and the office when we could, or if we could the street car. In the evenings, we as a team tried to eat out and explore the nearby Power & Light District. On Thursday night we had some time to have dinner, then attend a mini country concert featuring Corey Smith at Kansas City Live!

The trip back was uneventful, which is a good thing. Overall, I thought Kansas City Missouri was an interesting town. The architecture was intriguing — it was mostly early 20th century. As I understand it, the city lost a lot of its population in the 20th century as residents moved outside into the suburbs. Since then, the city has been working hard to convert old commercial buildings into residential lofts, and add many restaurants and other activities, in order to draw people back to live and work in the city. While I saw a lot of interesting sights in the Power & Light District, it still seems as though many people live outside. I wish them best of luck.

Business Trip to Dallas Texas

Last month I traveled to the Dallas area for two days worth of meetings and tours.

The flight inbound on American Airlines was pretty uuneventful apart from the middle seat. The plane offered in-flight entertainment so

  1. I watched the first half of Arrival, but the audio was bad. (Update – Luckily I was able to re-watch it through Netflix later. Excellent film.)
  2. I watched Hidden Figures in its entirety, and I thought it was alright.
  3. I watched a portion of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but ran out of time when we began landing procedures.

After picking up my rental car (a Kia from Hertz), I made my way up to the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre. Most Dallas city hotels were booked up this week, so I was staying on the outskirts. It’s a decent hotel with nice rooms, one restaurant, and a lively bar. Unfortunately the small gym is more of an afterthought with missing equipment, and the outdoor pool (from what I saw) was rather tiny.

20170507_210531After I arrived, I worked out in the gym  (ran a 5K), then showered and made my way to see my Sandhya and family for dinner. She moved to Dallas maybe 2-3 years ago after getting married and had 3 kids in the interim. Life does move fast. I had a great evening chatting with them all, but then had get back to catch up on work and prep for Monday.

Monday itself was a blur with consecutive meetings all day. In the evening, I ran another 5K on the gym treadmill, cleaned & dreasesd up, then drove back into Dallas to meet up with an old friend, Paul. He’s a long term Dallas resident doing comedy in the DFW area, plus touring colleges and clubs in the U.S. We met up at a nice restaurant near his neighborhood for dinner, then walked across to a bar for drinks and to finish chatting.

20170508_222607Tuesday was another blur and then a mad rush to return the rental car, and catch my 5pm flight. I ended up getting home around midnight.

Amid all the meetings and topics covered, I finally made some time to visit some area friends, see a little bit of Dallas, and work out…. two days in a row. Amazing.

Spring Break in Baltimore

Joshua's brand new bike for the trip

Joshua’s brand new bike for the trip

The kids had Spring Break for the week of March 9th, as did Namita’s niece Sophia. Namita decided (and I agreed to come along!) to drive down to Baltimore for a few days, stay over a few days, and let the cousins keep each other company. I took off that Monday only, and worked remotely Tuesday and Wednesday. The kids really wanted to go biking with Sophia, and I wanted to go biking there too on my day off. With only a few hours before we would be packing up and leaving, Joshua and I went to our local bike shop to trade in his old bike, and purchase a more grown up one.

We didn’t hit too much traffic on the way down Sunday night. Nothing fancy — we had a home-cooked meal  at their house before bed.


Meeting friends in front of Rusty Scupper in the Inner Harbor

On Monday, I took the kids out biking in the late morning, and we covered about 5-6 miles riding around the Baltimore suburbs, hanging out in a local park, and grabbing some ice cream. In the later afternoon, I struck out on my own to make my way to the Inner Harbor using Google Maps biking directions. Let me tell, you, those biking directions should definitely be considered beta, because it took me through some awful neighborhoods without bike trails/lanes. Heck, at one point I ran out of road, and was left with a dirt sidewalk. The good news was that I didn’t get jacked. I have to say that I was amazed and appalled by how much abject poverty there is around and within Baltimore.


Dinner at Roy’s, Inner Harbor, Baltimore

I rode all the way to the Inner Harbor, and met up with our neighbors Brian & Teo (and some of their kids) who were also vacationing in Baltimore that week. On the way back, I found the Jones Falls Trail, and took that as far as I could up through Druid Hill Park, before reverting back to dangerous streets. Overall, I rode about 24 miles that day. When I got back, I quickly showered, and the five of us went back down to the harbor area for dinner at Roy’s. After dinner, we walked around and all the way to Fells Point to meet up with Teo and Brian (and their respective families) to say hello.

Tuesday and Wednesday was about me working remotely while everyone else had fun. Namita took the kids out Tuesday for lunch, a bookstore, trying to see a movie, etc. I found an Orangetheory Fitness gym in Hunt Valley, MD, and took an hour class there after work. After dinner, we played Telestrations for the first time, which was fun.

Wednesday at the end of the day, I took the kids biking one last time, and we did some more exploration of the surrounding areas. In the evening, we loaded up the car, drove for a while, and grabbed dinner at a Waffle House somewhere along the way.

I wish I didn’t have to work while traveling. I would have enjoyed hanging out with everyone else, but what can you do sometimes. At least we had the evenings together.

Business Trip to Columbus Ohio

In March, I had a very brief business trip to Columbus Ohio, that got postponed due to a freak mid-March snowstorm. It got rescheduled for two weeks later, and the same day as Lily’s 9th birthday party. Why? Thankfully, I was able to book the last flight out to Columbus on Sunday night with my coworker. After the party, we cleaned up, I finished packing, and then was off to Newark.

The flight was ultimately very delayed about 3 hours due to missing aircraft.

“Where’s the plane, United?”

“It’ll be here real soon, We really mean it this time!”

While waiting, I chatted with my coworker, caught up on the news, and ate a poor man’s cheesesteak quesadilla from a take-out restaurant at the airport (because they ran out of bread.) We arrived very late in Columbus, and navigated our weary selves to the rental car center, and to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Columbus-West.

In the morning, we grabbed a complimentary-yet-sparse breakfast at our oddly-very-empty-on-a-Monday-morning Hampton Inn hotel, then went to the office. We worked for the morning as planned, had lunch at the office, then got unceremoniously kicked out. It was one of those, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” kind of deals. Don’t ask. My coworker and I killed some time, gassed up the car, saw some of downtown Columbus, then went to the airport. We had dinner at the airport, then had an uneventful trip back home. I got home around 10:30 pm.

That was it, folks. It was a fast blink and you’ll miss it trip. Downtown Columbus looked interesting, so it might be worth coming back to check it out for a night.

Namita’s 40th birthday party extravaganza in the Riviera Maya – Monday


After breakfast, the ladies (plus Teo) tried to find some of the Wisconsin guests and their 10 am Zumba in the water class, but never found them. Namita and I ended up picking up some souvenirs for the kids at the gift shop, then heading back to pack our suitcases.

Although we had to check out by 11 or 12, we could have the bellman come to grab our suitcases, then we could hang out, eat, and drink on the resort until we had to catch our transportation back to the airport. I checked us out, then met the rest of our traveling companions on the beach. We had a few more drinks, then went to the hotel tub for one last dip.

I went to the nearby spa to shower, freshen up, and change my clothes. I met the rest of them at Kampai for our last meal (lunch.) We ended up lunching longer than expected, and ended up briskly walking to the main lobby.

Thankfully our limo (our limo!) had not left without us. We had an uneventful ride back to the airport, no delays with our flight, and no issues overall. Soon enough we were in the minivan and on our way home to New Jersey.

Overall, it was a really fun trip. We had some great food, enjoyed the sun, and met a lot of nice Midwest folks. I do wish the weather had cooperated more. Teo & Sofia never got to go snorkeling or parasailing, and none of us got to enjoy our beachfront dining experiences.

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